Angela Scanlon: Breaking up with technology and relishing the moment
I need a detox. Not green juices and quinoa for a week but some real life technology starvation. The kind that makes me nervous and anxious but will ultimately lead to happiness and a renewed sense of balance. Or at least that's what Google says…
Technology is a beautifully shiny double-edged sword. It is the greatest gift and the biggest curse of our generation. It has enabled us to access anything, anytime we want, anywhere in the world but has also made us unable to appreciate and enjoy whatever that thing may be. We want it all, we want it now but we don't have the time or attention span to take it in. You book a cheap flight to Cuba while on the bus to work, use Airbnb to stay in a brilliant and affordable apartment, bring a GoPro to upload video of your skydive and spend each morning at the local cafe accessing the only Wi-Fi in town, getting your hit and easing the jitters.
You take pictures, not because they will look nice on your wall and remind you of a wonderful holiday. You take them to upload them, otherwise what's the point? They need to be seen, they are of no use on a memory stick or in a box in your drawer. Their presence in a cloud or on a feed it infinitely more valuable, it shows you are adventurous and well travelled, you get a nice tan and have won the game we call life. It is not enough to live it anymore, you must prove you've done so too, and slap a decent filter on while you're at it.
We watch gigs through a screen, take snapshots of scenery on an iPhone rather than in our memories, talk to friends online, send sexy pictures instead of doing the deed; we pick a mate, order dinner, buy clothes and followers and love… We are sheltered from life and protected from reality by that little sheet of glass. We have created a world so brilliantly convenient and hassle free, it is the hermit's paradise. But it's not really real, is it?
I spend more time per day on my phone than should be legal for any human. It wakes me in the morning, I check Twitter and Instagram, read my tailor-made feed of news based on likes/dislikes and previous search history; my phone knows me, it listens to me. I check the weather before getting out of bed (somehow it seems more sensible than looking out the window). My phone reminds me to pick up dry cleaning and go to a meeting, my digital calendar tells me who I'm meeting, where and at what time. I get a reminder to leave for the airport, a real-time traffic report as well as my flight details and what I should do when I get to the other side (weather-appropriate activities obviously). It is my smartest friend and treats me like a dummy, it gives me everything and expects nothing in return, apart from attention. Pretty constant attention.
This magical little living box of plastic and glass knows more about me than I do myself, I trust it more than I do most people and I love it. I would marry this if marrying inanimate objects wasn't the want of slightly less stable individuals than I purport to be. But this lusty, heady period is coming to an end and while I still want to hang out with it, I realise I need my own space a bit. Some peace. Some silence. I don't want to be defined by it or ruled by it. And so we're 'on a break'.
I am going to attempt a tech detox, ridding myself of the incessant buzzing in my pocket, the frantic desire to check my feed 24/7, the feelings of inferiority that come after five minutes scrolling through Instagram, the inability to relish the 'now'. It won't be easy but I'm determined… I hope my neck will be less stiff too. More next week!
Racing season is upon us, or so I hear. Ladies legging it to adorn themselves with giant hats and feathered fascinators in an attempt to out peacock each other and win the BIG prize. This year, I plan on outdoing them all with something fantastical (see right), there is no room for subtlety. If you're going to go with feathers you may as well go all out.
I recently had the pleasure of going to The Royal Opera House to see the ballet. I have no idea why either, but let's keep this moving. I have always been secretly obsessed with ballet - in awe of the discipline, the physicality, the poise and grace. Behind the perfectly placed pointes, the willowy, whispery arms and the bulging tights are years of turmoil and graft, actual blood, sweat and tears. The fact that they make it look so damn easy is a feat in itself…